The way women re­late to make-up has changed, Jérôme Touron, cre­ative di­rec­tor of Her­mès Beauty, tells Selina Den­man

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The way women re­late to make-up is chang­ing, says the cre­ative di­rec­tor of Her­mès Beauty

How women en­gage with make-up has evolved in the past ten years, sug­gests Jérôme Touron, cre­ative di­rec­tor of Her­mès Beauty, which launched its first prod­uct to much fan­fare last month. “Women to­day have a great knowl­edge of make-up,” Touron tells me. “They know ex­actly what they like, what they want, what best suits their skin, what best suits their style and per­son­al­ity. So, more than ever, make-up says some­thing about the per­son wear­ing it.”

It has be­come a uniquely per­sonal form of self ex­pres­sion, he main­tains. Some­thing much more than skin deep. “It is at the same time a ges­ture of

self-aes­theti­ci­sa­tion, and some­thing deeper, more in­tro­spec­tive. There­fore, I think to­day, the pur­pose of make-up is not to mask, not to trans­form. In­stead it’s about re­veal­ing the colour of the per­son­al­ity. It’s about cre­at­ing a con­nec­tion, a cor­re­spon­dence, be­tween the way you feel in­side and the way you look out­side.”

It is also a form of self-care – some­thing that women do for them­selves, rather than oth­ers; an act for the ben­e­fit of in­ner re­flec­tion rather than outer per­cep­tion. “It’s about well-be­ing, about com­fort and har­mony with one­self,” Touron con­tin­ues. “It’s also about tak­ing care of one­self and tak­ing time for one­self. If time is a lux­ury, make-up can again be­come a lux­ury. A sim­ple and es­sen­tial lux­ury.”

It makes sense, then, that when Her­mès came to launch its first beauty prod­uct, it started with a line of lip­sticks. Of all forms of make-up, it is a slick of colour on the lips that has the po­ten­tial to have the most im­me­di­ate im­pact. “The lip­stick is spe­cial be­cause it has the abil­ity to re­veal per­son­al­ity in a few sec­onds, in a sin­gle ges­ture, in just one ap­pli­ca­tion,” Touron main­tains. “In­stantly, it re­veals the colour of the per­son­al­ity. In a way, it ex­em­pli­fies our con­cep­tion of beauty: to re­veal, not to trans­form. Hence the de­sire to start Her­mès Beauty with a lip­stick.”

The lux­ury mai­son de­buted its 16th metier, or prod­uct cat­e­gory, with Rouge Her­mès, a col­lec­tion of 24 lip­sticks – a nod to the ad­dress of brand’s his­toric head­quar­ters on 24, Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris. Ini­ti­ated five years ago, the project brought to­gether var­i­ous ar­eas of the mai­son’s time-tested ex­per­tise: Pierre Hardy, cre­ative di­rec­tor of Her­mès jew­ellery and shoes, de­signed the case. Bali Bar­ret, artis­tic di­rec­tor of the women’s uni­verse and cre­ative di­rec­tor of women’s silk, con­trib­uted her vi­sion of fem­i­nin­ity and colour; while Touron trans­formed this vi­sion into ac­tual make-up.

The myr­iad lip colours are housed in a dis­tinct and el­e­gant look­ing re­cep­ta­cle that is al­most totemic in its de­sign – a bold stack of lac­quered, brushed and pol­ished metal, in black, white and gold. “This ob­ject was about giv­ing form to beauty – an im­pal­pa­ble, frag­ile, elu­sive, un­pre­dictable and di­verse com­bi­na­tion of qual­i­ties. I sought a sim­ple, rad­i­cal form that would be a suit­able re­cep­ta­cle for the so­phis­ti­ca­tion it con­tains,” Hardy tells me.

Con­sist­ing of 10 matt and 14 satin fin­ishes, the lip­sticks come with ex­otic-sound­ing names such as Beige Kala­hari, Rose Dakar, Rose Mex­ique and Rouge Ama­zone – an­other nod, per­haps, to the brand’s her­itage and the cu­ri­ous, ex­plo­ration-lov­ing Emile Her­mès, who is cred­ited with lay­ing the foun­da­tions for the brand in its cur­rent man­i­fes­ta­tion. The lip­sticks are made from nat­u­ral ac­tive in­gre­di­ents, in­clud­ing white mul­berry, which has an­tiox­i­dant prop­er­ties, and sesamine, a sesame seed ex­tract, which has mois­tur­is­ing prop­er­ties. For com­fort and pro­tec­tion, for­mu­las also con­tain beeswax, can­delilla wax and shea but­ter.

The lip­stick line is com­ple­mented by a lip care balm, Poppy lip shine, a lip pen­cil and a lip brush cra ed from lac­quered wood, as well as a col­lec­tion

of leather ac­ces­sories, in­clud­ing a lip­stick case with an in­te­grated mirror and a moon-shaped mirror on a cord, all made in lux­u­ri­ous Madame calf­skin. The plan is to un­veil new Her­mès Beauty prod­ucts ev­ery six months from Septem­ber, un­til a com­plete line of make-up is cre­ated.

The brand has long been con­scious of how colour in­ter­acts with the skin – whether it’s a multi-hued silk scarf that ties at the neck or a brightly pat­terned piece of cloth­ing. Emile Her­mès was the first per­son to in­vent a sig­na­ture colour on leather when he in­tro­duced “rouge Her­mès” in 1925 –a shade that sits el­e­gantly be­tween pur­ple, bur­gundy and brown, and has be­come a house clas­sic. “At Her­mès, colour is an ir­ra­tional, in­tox­i­cat­ing pas­sion, a cra sman­ship of nuances, an ob­ses­sion with strik­ing the right tone, and a lan­guage all of its own,” says Bar­ret.

So when it came to find­ing in­spi­ra­tion for its lip­sticks, the team had a wealth of sources to mine. “At Her­mès, colours travel,” says Touron. “They are rein­vented from one ma­te­rial to an­other: from silk to leather, enamel or lac­quer.

“In Lyon, we have more than 75,000 colours in our archives, just for silk. That was an ex­traor­di­nary source of in­spi­ra­tion for lip­stick shades. That was pure free­dom. And at the same time, the idea was to choose from th­ese end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties to cre­ate a per­fectly edited range of 24 em­blem­atic shades. This was a chal­lenge. In the same way, for the matt and satin tex­tures of the lip­stick, we worked around a hun­dred vari­a­tions, over al­most three years.”

With its man­i­fold fin­ishes and fun­da­men­tally tac­tile na­ture, leather – the cor­ner­stone of the Her­mes brand, which started out as a sad­dle maker in 1837 and now uses its mas­tery of the ma­te­rial to cra the world’s most cov­eted hand­bags and ac­ces­sories – in­formed Touron’s ap­proach. The brand’s archives are cur­rently home to leather in 900 dif­fer­ent hues.

“I’ve imag­ined the fin­ishes of the lip­sticks in res­o­nance with cer­tain fin­ishes of leather,” Touron ex­plains. “Like an anal­ogy of ma­te­ri­als, both tac­tile and vis­ual. The matt fin­ish is in­spired by Dob­lis leather, with its so , vel­vety, al­most pow­dery feel. The satin fin­ish is in­spired by Box leather, with its smooth, shiny and lu­mi­nous look.”

To de­scribe the process, Touron draws from the world of art. “Her­mès is free­dom in a frame. It’s like a Carré. There is a pro­fu­sion, an in­fin­ity of pos­si­bil­i­ties, and at the same time, a frame that is clear and pre­cise. Make-up works ex­actly the same way. There is an in­fin­ity of op­tions in terms of colours, tex­tures and types of ap­pli­ca­tion... and at the same, it has to meet a cer­tain func­tion.”

Ul­ti­mately, beauty may be new as an of­fi­cial cat­e­gory for the brand, but it is cer­tainly not new as a con­cept. “In a way, beauty has al­ways been there. Beauty can be found in all Her­mès’ métiers, from bags and lug­gage, to silk, ready-to-wear, shoes, jew­ellery, watches and many oth­ers… So to me, make-up is a nat­u­ral con­tin­u­a­tion, a new ex­pres­sion of Her­mès’ idea of beauty. Like per­fume, it adds a fi­nal touch. It’s part of the same idea of “art de vivre”.

The lip­stick is spe­cial be­cause it has the abil­ity to re­veal per­son­al­ity in a few sec­onds, in a sin­gle ges­ture, in just one ap­pli­ca­tion

Rouge Her­mes is a col­lec­tion of 24 lip­sticks, in­clud­ing 10 matt and 14 satin-fin­ish shades, in an el­e­gant case by Pierre Hardy

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